What are the traits or skillsets that designers, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers will need to address a complex, rapidly changing world? There are behaviors that span disciplines, and utilize design methodologies to advance rapid change. Here are five tenets the 21st century creative thinker can use to disrupt markets and drive innovation.
The relentless pursuit of “making” in order to foster new discovery and understanding. Learn by “doing” and “building.”
The creative confidence to bring any idea, whether it be product, environment, service, performance, policy, or business, to a realization where it can be tested against an audience. Flexible prototyping skills that matches the prototype’s fidelity and resolution appropriate to the stage of development.
An entrepreneurial spirit seeks to find the balance between value, costs, resources, and social impact. It seeks to define new businesses and balances economic and societal needs.
For a design intervention to endure, the business model must be sustainable. Value, benefits, resources and costs must be in perfect balance. All great designers have been keenly aware of this alignment. “Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” - Thomas Edison
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his [or her] point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." —Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
An open mind, tolerance for others, and a beginner’s view are critical empathic skills exhibited by the 21st century designer. Seek first to understand others different than you, rather than judge or categorize them. The ability to channel a subcultural group, “method act” their life, rather than dictate their behavior, speeds the adoption of the design.
You learn more from rapid trial and error, out in the world, than you do from one glorified attempt in your office/dorm room.
Additive manufacturing, low-fidelity prototyping, agile development, and the push for flex- ible manufacturing all point to one main trend–Ever quicker cycles between the expression of an idea, and the solicitation of feedback from the audience. You gain more from multiple cycles made with users’ feedback than from a single, high resolution solution.
Complicated problems are rarely single factor. To truly understand the level of the system you’re trying to address, you need to
21st century practitioners, design thinkers, and entrepreneurs must bring a newfound attention to context and situation. Current trends in meta-thinking engage the modern designer to contemplate not what is known or seen, but the implicit, hidden forces at work. This state of inquisitive curiosity spurs innovative solutions that disrupt markets.